Where's My Girl? (by Malcolm Saville)

Trying to finish a book every day this month, I'm very much enjoying re-visiting some of my teenage favourite novels, which are often rather shorter than those intended for adults. Malcolm Saville was always one of my favourite authors, and I particularly loved his Lone Pine series for teenagers. Strange, in a way, since they're basic adventure stories - but the characterisation is so good that I rank them highly.

'Where's my girl?' is the 19th of the Lone Pine Adventure books. In this story, the Shropshire and London members of the club go on holiday to an old house in Dartmoor that has been converted for guests. It seems slightly contrived in that the house is owned by Mr and Mrs Warrender, who are related to the Lone Piners Jon and Penny in Rye, but they don't come into the book. Instead their friends - David, Peter (Petronella), Tom, Jenny, Dickie and Mary go to stay, along with Mackie the dog.

They're not entirely sure what to expect, and it doesn't help that Tom is just getting over a nasty fall. The guest-house manager and his wife seem very friendly, but gradually the Lone Piners they realise that strange things are happening, and not everything is quite as it seems. Danger threatens, and then the two older girls go missing... causing David and Tom to be extremely worried.

Exciting, fast-paced and well-written; seems a little dated now, but then it was written in the mid-1970s. Children (the twins Dickie and Mary are not quite eleven) had a great more freedom even thirty-five years ago, and while the dangers are clearer in this book than in some of the earlier ones, they do seem to take significant risks at times.

Recommended to anyone who likes this kind of book, if you can find it. It isn't currently in print, and second-hand editions online seem remarkably expensive. However, it's not necessary to have read any of the other Lone Pine adventures, since each one is complete in itself, with a cast list in the front and a brief explanation about the club.

Sadly not in print, and second-hand editions can be extremely expensive, but some libraries may still carry this series.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 27th November 2010

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